Friday, 2 March 2012

Article: Segun Oni Is Taking The Judiciary For A Ride

Segun Oni
 By Nelson Ekujumi
The judiciary is generally acknowledged as the last hope of the common man but certain developments within the Nigerian judiciary in the last couple of months have given patriotic Nigerians and groups cause for concern because of its long term implication on the society. During the last democratic dispensation, there were calls from several quarters for our electoral system to be made more responsible and responsive by making electoral theft a criminal offence punishable by prison sentence and even outright ban from politics.
Ever since he was sacked as governor of Ekiti state and the legitimate custodian of the people’s mandate restored, Engr. Segun Oni has behaved true to type like the drowning man who clutches at anything to save himself even if it means drowning others in the process.
This write up becomes necessary in view of the shameless and criminal conspiracy in some quarters to destroy the judiciary at all cost just because of one man, I am talking of no other person than the former President of the Court of Appeal Justice Ayo Salami who committed the "crime" of diligence, honesty and obedience to his oath of office by conscientiously performing his constitutional function of dispensing justice.
Ever since Justice Salami led Appeal court sacked Segun Oni and Olagunsoye Oyinlola from illegimately and unconstitutionally occupying the exalted seat of Governor of Ekiti and Osun states respectively, the man has known no peace from the enemies of democracy and rule of law. First, the two impostors and their political party caused mischievous petition to be written against Justice Salami to the National Assembly which has no constitutional functions on election matters, alleging that he compromised his office in recovering the people’s stolen mandate from electoral robbers. When this plot failed, the plotters then petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) and even attached a fictitious call log of conversation between Justice Salami and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) party chieftains to buttress their allegation, but the case was dismissed and even MTN, the telephone service provider came out publicly to deny that the calls originated from its system. What Segun Oni and Olagunsoye Oyinlola did in attempting to nail Justice Salami at all cost in this instance amounted to forgery which is a criminal offence and for which one would have expected any responsible government to have immediately arrested and prosecuted these two and their collaborators, but because the plot was a grand conspiracy involving even the Presidency, the Nigerian government turned a blind eye to a clear violation of the laws of the land.
The National Judicial Council (NJC) established a panel headed by Justice Bolarinwa Babalakin to look into the allegations of interference in the judicial duties of Justice Salami against Injustice Katsina Alu with regards to the then Sokoto State election matter which the CJN caused the Supreme Court to ambush by arresting the judgement. The panel report absolved Justice Salami of any wrong doing but instead went ahead to rebuke the then CJN for abuse of office for which a more responsible NJC would have demanded appropriate sanctions for this infraction of the constitution by the then CJN, Katsina Alu. This was another case of a criminal allowed to escape justice just because of his connection to fellow collaborators in Aso rock.
Notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence of abuse of office against him and realizing that the hunter had become the hunted, Injustice Katsina Alu in playing out the script of his fellow collaborators, then used the NJC to set up a new committee headed by Justice Umaru Abdullahi to do his bidding and after completing its assignment and within 24 hours of receiving Justice Abdullahi’s report, the same NJC then set up a new panel headed by Justice Ibrahim Auta of the infamous Ken Saro Wiwa kangaroo trial to make recommendations on the findings of the Abdullahi’s panel just to nail an incorruptible judge who had refused to sell his conscience for a pot of porridge like some of his contemporaries. The Auta panel acted out the script and even went further to illegally and unconstitutionally recommend the suspension of Justice Ayo Salami which was carried out in jankara (fraudulent) style by the Presidency which had become very fearful of its own fate at the Presidential elections tribunal because of the membership of the uncompromising Justice Ayo Salami.
However, early this week, the “acting” President of the Court of Appeal unconstitutionally constituted a new court of Appeal to review the judgement of a previous Appeal Court based on a frivolous petition by Engr. Segun Oni challenging the Justice Salami led Appeal court judgement which sacked him from his illegal office. But we thank God that those who are hell bent on destroying the judiciary just for their selfish ends have been disappointed by the judgement which dismissed the grounds on which the failed petition was based. I am sure most Nigerians are now more than ever convinced of the imperative and urgent need for electoral reforms via prison sentence for electoral robbers because if this had been the case, Segun Oni would have been too busy learning how to be a good citizen by now in Ado Ekiti prison rather than annoying our sensibilities with his evil machinations of destroying the judiciary at all cost.
We have all resolved to put all our sensory organs on red alert to watch keenly and voice out against any untold developments in the land lest some disgruntled and conscienceless characters destroy our common heritage. However, as we await the appeal against this unambiguous judgement, one only hopes that our judicial and non judicial officers alike would realize that whatever we do today, history beckons and posterity would judge all accordingly.
(Ekujumi is Chairman, Committee for the Protection of People’s Mandate (CPPM)
And Acting Executive Director, Centre for Rights and Policy Development (CRPD)),

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